Tuesday, March 16, 2021

King Aleph of the Alphabet

By Madeleine Kando

Once upon a time, there was a mighty king named Aleph. He was of a strong and sturdy lineage. Just by looking at his physique, one could see how he was built to withstand adversity of any kind. Over many generations, his ancestors had developed two unusually prominent legs, which were always planted firmly wide apart. The evolutionary process had worked in mysterious ways, making his waist narrower and his shoulders narrower still, until it went to work on his head, which was the smallest part of his body. In fact, if one didn’t know that he was a king, he very much looked like the first letter of the alphabet.

But what he gained in strength, he lacked in flexibility. No matter how many yoga classes he took, he just couldn’t bend over in the slightest. Being a king, he had to spend a lot of time on his throne, which he could only manage to sit on by straddling it, his short legs dangling in the air on each side.

There were other noble families with a similar defect. His cousins from the house of Ache (pronounced H) and his uncle from the house of Arr (pronounced R), were equally afflicted by this inability to bend. Was it a result of too much royal inbreeding? ‘If it’s not good for rabbits, it cannot be good for kings’, his great grandfather from the House of Ey (pronounced A), used to say.

Hence King Aleph, as mighty as he was, could not manage to get dressed, tie his shoes or even go to the bathroom without a great deal of assistance. As everyone knows, relieving yourself without bending is well nigh impossible without creating a serious problem. We will refrain from giving a detailed description here and leave it up to the reader’s imagination.

But King Aleph knew that without the help of many of his subjects, he couldn’t maintain his ruling position. He was as shrewd as he was rigid, so he forged a strong alliance with the House of Aaow (pronounced O). What King Aleph lacked, the Aaows possessed in abundance. Which was not flexibility, as you might think. Evolution, always working its mysterious ways, had omitted to provide this side of the royal family with any legs at all. Hence, they propelled themselves by rolling. And boy, did they roll! Many a distinguished member at the Royal Court ended up flat on their face as one of these Aaows came rolling down the garden paths at high speed.

King Aleph’s servants were recruited from the lower ranks of this noble family, a.k.a. ‘the rollers’. Whenever the King rang the bell, his personal aide, whom the King affectionately called ‘Mr.O’, would speedily roll into his royal bedroom. There he was, slowly rolling back and forth after having knocked over the guard at the door, awaiting instructions. The rollers had one disadvantage: they didn’t have any way of knowing which way was up or down, since all the sides of their legless bodies were identical. Mr. O silently wondered why the King was upside down, until he realized what was the problem and rolled himself back to normal.

King Aleph was all too aware that many of his subjects had far worse problems to deal with than a lack of elasticity. He particularly felt bad for the lower classes in his kingdom, the unfortunate souls on whom evolution had stopped working mid-shift: the ones that were born with only one leg. Those were known as the Peys and Effs (pronounce P and F). Lacking a second support, they could only hop, which left them out of breath after only a short distance.

Because of the King’s generosity in subsidizing science in his kingdom, a bright engineer had come up with an invention which is now commonly known as crutches. The Tees and Whys (pronounced as T and Y) were particularly grateful, since they possessed appendages to hold on to the crutches. The most unfortunate ones of these lower classes were the notorious Aays ( pronounced I). Having no appendages whatsoever, they were doomed to hop until their dying day. They were, in fact, the bottom of the barrel.

Others were warned not to stray into the Aays territory. Even though without appendages, the Aays had perfected a technique of super-hopping that landed them with great force on an unsuspecting victim, knocking the wind out of them. Before the victim knew what hit them, both their breath and their wallet were gone.

As our reader may know, someone is always plotting against a King and King Aleph was no exception. There was a rumor that the Noble house of Kays (pronounced as K, which you might already have guessed), were planning a power grab.

King Aleph immediately took drastic measures. He sent his ‘rollers’ to do the dirty work of removing one of the plotting Kays’ 2 legs. This not only stopped the plot, but immediately demoted the Kay from a walker to a hopper. Being a Kay all your life and suddenly finding yourself transformed into a Y was pretty traumatic. It served as a gruesome but effective example of what fate had in store for plotters.

You might realize by now that King Aleph’s kingdom was good for some, but terrible for others. There was a hint of a middle class, however. Those were the Bees and the Dees. Evolution had been kinder to them than to the ‘hoppers’, albeit not kind enough to give them the ability to walk. But necessity, as you know, is the mother of invention and those clever Bees and Dees moved about by pivoting back and forth, which they could do with great speed.

But they were short on patience and it often happened that their speed got the better of them. If they pivoted too far, they tumbled and fell on their back, like a bug with its legs in the air. The Bees were in double trouble when that happened. They wobbled back and forth endlessly, the two bumps on their back preventing them from regaining their footing. And God forbid a pivoter would fall forward, their flat side crunched into the ground. They were at the mercy of others with appendages to lift them back up.

You might wonder why the hoppers, rollers and pivoters put up with such an unequal society. Why didn’t they rebel? Well, that is exactly what happened. They took to the streets with protest signs that read ‘hoppers’ and rollers’ lives matter!’

Soon, the Kays an Aaches and Aars lost their privileged status and had to pay a decent wage to whomever was willing to wipe their you know what. Shapism was no longer tolerated in King Aleph’s kingdom. The kingdom’s subjects discovered that how you looked, no longer mattered. It was how you sounded. Together they created an entirely new kingdom, which they called the LAND OF WORDS. leave comment here